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Future of Canada's mission in Libya up in the air

PM to consult allies, but for now, no clear answer on country's role in any post-liberation scheme for troubled nation.

Photo of Tripoli courtesy of Wikimedia Commons.

As rebel troops close in on complete control of Tripoli, Prime Minister Stephen Harper says Canada will begin consultations with allies in NATO about the future of the military mission.

The Canadian Press has the story:

OTTAWA -- Prime Minister Stephen Harper says Canada will remain a part of NATO's military mission in Libya for now, even as Moammar Gadhafi's regime appears to be crumbling.

"Today, Canada welcomes the news that the Gadhafi regime is at the beginning of its end,'' Harper told reporters on Monday.

Reports from Tripoli suggest most of Gadhafi's security forces fled or surrendered when rebel forces took control of most of the capital Sunday night.

But rebels are still fighting pockets of fierce resistance from regime loyalists firing mortars and anti-aircraft guns. The rebels say they will only declare victory when Gadhafi, whose whereabouts are not known, is captured.

NATO has vowed to keep up its air campaign until all pro-Gadhafi forces surrender or return to their barracks.

It is not known what Canada's involvement would be in any possible international mission in post-liberated Libya.

More than 600 Canadian troops are taking part in the military campaign led by Canadian Lt.-Gen. Charles Bouchard. "For now our military forces will remain in place and we'll consult our allies on the next steps,'' Harper said, adding that Canadians have every reason to be proud of their participation.

"I'd like to thank the brave men and women of the Canadian armed forces for their impressive contribution to the allied effort.''

With about 90 per cent of Libya under control, the Libyan rebels as well as world leaders began to look ahead to the transition of power in Tripoli.

"Libyans have waited a long time to be free of the barbarity, repression and violence of the Gadhafi regime,'' Harper said. "And the Libyan people must now chart their own democratic course.''

World leaders expressed confidence Monday that Gadhafi's 42-year rule will soon come to an end and began setting the stage for a new leadership there.

Harper spoke Monday afternoon to the chairman of the Libyan National Transitional Council, Mustafa Abdel Jalil, the prime minister's office said in a statement.

"They expressed their satisfaction that the Ghadafi regime is collapsing and discussed at length the importance of ensuring law and order, and a smooth, just and effective transition to democracy in Libya.''

Britain said its frozen Libyan assets would soon be released to help the country's rebels establish order. France announced plans for an international meeting next week and Italy sent a team to the rebels' base of Benghazi to help plan reconstruction and the restoration of oil and natural gas production.

U.S. President Barack Obama was to discuss Gadhafi's fall in a phone call with British Prime Minister David Cameron, U.S. officials said. Cameron, who was also holding talks with Harper and French President Nicolas Sarkozy, said British diplomats would move from Benghazi in the east to Tripoli as soon as it was safe to do so.

Meanwhile, the United Nations Secretary General Ban ki-Moon said the UN could propose sending "peace monitors'' to Libya or help its new government with security, economic recovery, elections and a new constitution.

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